Connect with us
Seder Passover
Israel Bonds RRSP
JNF Canada


As trial begins in Tree of Life massacre, Pittsburgh’s Jews struggle with what to reveal and what to conceal

PITTSBURGH (JTA) — On Friday afternoon, Squirrel Hill was suffused with spring breezes and pink dogwoods, and alive with the movement that typifies the coming of Shabbat. 

Toddlers scrambled up the jungle gym in the JCC playground, while the chatter in cafes was about a looming storm that could soak the walk to synagogue on Saturday. Murray Avenue Kosher was emptying out of challahs.

Barely present, at least on the surface, was any indication that Monday morning would hold a turning point in the community’s greatest trauma. That’s when jury selection was to begin in the trial of the man accused of shattering Shabbat on Oct. 27, 2018, with gunfire. His massacre of 11 worshipers, in a synagogue building a 10-minute stroll from the downtown of this leafy, heavily Jewish neighborhood, was the deadliest-ever attack on U.S. Jews.

But behind the scenes, there are clear signs that the trial’s proximity is being felt. Maggie Feinstein, the director of the 10/27 Healing Partnership, which provides post-traumatic therapy for the community, said that as the trial nears, requests for treatment have spiked.

“The trauma cues that for a while bothered us right after the shooting — for some people it might be ambulances, for other people it might be media, for some people it might be the sound of multiple police cars — you get to a place where they don’t bother you as much,” she said. “But the increased media attention and the increased awareness of this upcoming trial for a number of people is bringing back for them that maybe they didn’t do their own healing the first time around.”


A Starbucks in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh is decorated with a memorial for the victims of the 2018 massacre at the city’s Tree of Life synagogue, April 21, 2023. (Ron Kampeas)

There were three congregations in the building: Tree of Life and New Light, both affiliated with the Conservative movement, and Dor Hadash, which is Reconstructionist.

The 11 victims were brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, couple Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Rose Malinger, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger. Seven were from Tree of Life, three were from New Light and one was from Dor Hadash.

For their families, their friends, their congregations and their broader Jewish community, the legacy of the massacre is a deep-seated longing for control, a longing to never have to think again of the gunman and of the anguish he left in his wake, while grappling with tender memories of the dead, of the decades spent in celebration and in prayer in the building.

Who narrates this story, the gunman or his victims? That struggle now looms as the alleged gunman goes to trial. The community is wrestling with questions such as where and whether to put the bullet-riddled artifacts, whether to worship at the site, whether to even speak of the massacre and how and whether the gunman lives or dies. 

​​”We believe strongly that this antisemitic attack should not stop people from practicing and being Jewish,” Feinsten said. “For a lot of people, that’s an active choice that they have to work at. It doesn’t come easily after feeling unsafe in that environment to then work to find safety in it. But a lot of people have chosen to do that.”

On Friday, Feinstein was organizing support services for families who would, if they so choose, be sequestered in a separate room in the court where they could view the trial. (Family members may also ask to be seated in the courtroom.) She assigned six therapists to be present with the families.

Compounding the revisited trauma of the event, the families are divided over whether the gunman, should he be convicted, deserves the death penalty. The accused has a lawyer, Judy Clarke, known as “the attorney for the damned” for her determination to keep her clients from execution.

What’s clear is that the Jews of Squirrel Hill are taking the trial on with their characteristic spirit of collaboration. The community has hired public relations specialists to handle media inquiries ahead of the trial, in part to safeguard locals from being pressed to answer questions that could harm them or shatter the sense of unity. Congregants reached by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency dutifully deferred to the list of approved contacts on a list distributed by a PR agency. 

On Friday afternoon, signs of unity that flooded the city in the immediate aftermath of the shooting were still visible. In a tobacconist’s window a sign with the slogan “No place for hate/Stronger than hate,” which had proliferated throughout the neighborhood after the attack, remained propped up next to a flag and an ad for the lottery. A Starbucks had on its window white paint drawings depicting “love,” “kindness” and “hope” in English and in Hebrew, alongside symbols: the Star of David, a heart and a dove.


A tobacconist window includes a poster of the “No Place for Hate” slogan that proliferated after the Tree of Life Massacre in 2018, in Pittsburgh, April 21, 2023. (Ron Kampeas)

Representatives of the community talk about “doing Jewish” as a means of coping, including redoubling the very activities — allying with the city’s Black minority and advocating for immigration, refugees and gun control — that fueled the rage of the alleged attacker.

The attacker allegedly was driven in part by the partnership between Dor Hadash and HIAS, the Jewish refugee aid group, and the congregation’s sponsorship of refugee families.

“We have, if anything, doubled down on our commitment to immigrants and refugees,” said Dana Kellerman, the chair of the communications committee at Dor Hadash. “We are currently coming up on the end of our first year working with a new resettlement program to resettle a Congolese immigrant family in Pittsburgh, and we have every intention of when the year commitment is up of working with a second family.”

Kellerman said the shooting had “honestly become part of the background of our existence at this point.” In keeping with her congregation’s rules aimed at protecting their community, Kellerman declined to talk about the day of the massacre, the death penalty or about details of the trial. But she was open about the ways in which her congregation has leaned into the values it has long held, and that the gunman so reviled.

“We have become louder and more public about practicing our Judaism,” she said. Now, she said, the congregation incorporates advocacy for refugees into its service, with liturgical readings on immigration. 

There are other changes. “We even have hats now! We have baseball caps!” Kellerman said with a smile, unearthing a photo of herself in a white cap with “Dor Hadash” and a stylized Magen David in blue, standing alongside gun control advocates.

“Previously we all would have shown up as our individual selves, and now we show up in our Dor Hadash baseball caps,” she said. “Mine kept blowing off.”

Steve Cohen, the co-president of New Light, said the congregation’s relationship with Black churches in the city has reached new intensity since the massacre. The congregation’s rabbi and congregants who know Hebrew partner with the churches to analyze sacred texts in the original.

“We would bring our Tanachs [Hebrew Bibles], and the Christian congregation would bring their Bible and then we would talk about the Proverbs and go through it, not just what the intention of the author was, but how different ways the same words can be translated in order to imply different things,” he said. “And so we went through the whole Book of Proverbs with the Rodman Street Baptist Church, and this past winter, we did the selected Psalms with the faith and Destiny Church on the north side.”

The interior of the new sanctuary of the New Light congregation, four and half years after a gunman massacred three of its congregants, in Pittsburgh, April 21, 2023. (Ron Kampeas)

New Light took its cue from survivors of the 2015 attack on the Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a white supremacist murdered nine Black worshipers, Cohen said. Leaders of New Light traveled to the church and heard from its elders that it was not enough to tend to the traumatized individuals, but to the community; they emphasized outreach, bringing congregants back in.

“That’s a lot of the reason why we have an outpouring of members who never attended shul now attending shul,” he said.

Feinstein, too, said she had an intensification of religious and ritual observance among her clients: more frequent attendance at Shabbat services, forming a daily minyan, finding a study partner for daily Talmud study.

Kellerman said the community has become closer; she sees it in congregants who linger. “It shows up in things like people showing up for Friday night services, and hanging out to chat or getting on a little early to chat,” she said.

A rendition of architect Daniel Libeskind’s plans for the interior of the new Tree of Life synagogue. (Tree of Life)

In the days leading up to the trial, the community bid farewell to the most salient relic of that painful day: the hulking synagogue building on the corner of Wilkins and Shady that has stood empty since then. All three congregations have decamped to nearby synagogues, leaving behind the chain-link fence draped with paintings from children across the country wishing for strength. 

“Nobody has been meeting in the synagogue since the day of the shooting,” said Carole Zawatsky, the Tree of Life CEO who is overseeing the plans to replace the building. The only people to have been inside at all, she said, were survivors and “special friends” — donors to the rebuilding and politicians.

Zawatsky said it is wrenching to even contemplate returning for some. “You can walk through the building and see where the gunman was destructive,” she said. “You can see where the gunman was apprehended, where the gunman opened fire. It’s devastating to witness.”

But some intend to: Tree of Life lost seven congregants but plans on returning once the building is rebuilt as a museum and education center focused on the dangers of extremism.

On Sunday, the Tree of Life congregation had an outdoor ceremony to say “L’hitraot,” Hebrew for “until we meet again,” to the building as it has existed up to now.

“We are grateful to God for the thousands of blessings that have passed through these doors,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the rabbi who sheltered congregants and alerted police, said at the ceremony. “We cannot, we must not, permit one day … to define us, nor outweigh all the good.”

The new center is being designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect who designed the master plan for the World Trade Center site reconstruction in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin. 

But Dor Hadash and New Light decided their moves were permanent in part because families of their victims swore never to return to the building. 

New Light is now ensconced in what once was a secondary chapel at the Beth Shalom synagogue, as if it has been there for decades: Plaques honoring past donors and presidents adorn the walls of the sanctuary. The only signs of the massacre are the 1,000 paper cranes Pittsburgh’s Japanese community gave the congregation, reflecting a Japanese tradition that folding cranes will make a wish come true. They hang at the entrance to the sanctuary, unexplained by any plaque. There is a stained glass monument to the three victims at the cemetery where they are buried.

Even with Tree of Life’s commitment to return, many questions remain about what that will look like. The congregation has yet to decide what objects will stay in the sanctuary, what will stay in storage and what will be part of a separate exhibit, Zawatsky said. 

“The first work that’s had to be done for the synagogue is ‘What are the things that need to be saved and go into storage during construction?’” she said. 

In some ways, she indicated, the work of rebuilding could bear some resemblance to the balancing act that the community will have to navigate during the alleged shooter’s trial.

“We are thinking deeply about how you exhibit some of these materials,” Zaslavsky said, “in ways that are both teachable moments and don’t retraumatize.”

The post As trial begins in Tree of Life massacre, Pittsburgh’s Jews struggle with what to reveal and what to conceal appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

Continue Reading


The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

Continue Reading



Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News